I have every faith in Rafa Benitez identifying the right players, both those he wants to stay at Newcastle and the transfer targets to bring in this summer.
There is though one major obstacle to getting these Newcastle transfer targets in.
In this case it isn’t the fact that United have dropped into the Championship, it is purely down to cash.
When Rafa Benitez was confirmed as staying at St James Park, it was also announced that agreement had been reached on a transfer budget for this summer which would be topped up with cash from any sales Rafa agrees to make.
However, with the Football League having relatively stringent FFP (Financial Fair Play) rules, I can’t see this basic budget being much more than £10m to £15m at the very most. Obviously Mike Ashley wouldn’t have wanted to guarantee too much cash anyway but there is also the threat of fines and other sanctions such as a transfer embargo, if Newcastle ended up staying in the Championship any longer than this next season.
So that leaves us with raising money through players leaving.
Steven Taylor’s wages will be saved as from the end of the month but with Andros Townsend reported to be getting a significant pay rise to take a away the threat of his release clause being triggered, that would swallow up the saved Taylor wages.
Anyway, if Rafa Benitez is looking to do some major trading this summer, then we surely need to see some big ‘names’ such as Sissoko, Wijnaldum and Janmaat heading out of the door.
These type of players are the ones who can arguably attract a transfer fee that goes beyond the benefits of keeping them in the Championship.
With under three weeks until players report back for pre-season training and eight weeks until the season kicks off, time is of the essence.
If, as I suspect, players need to go out before Newcastle make major moves in the transfer market, then we could see some serious games of cat and mouse.
Moussa Sissoko’s ludicrous declaration of his self-worth yesterday and statement that he wants to leave, is all very good, but a willing buyer is needed as well.
Claims this morning of a £20m valuation by Newcastle would surely see him going nowhere this summer, so let’s just hope Rafa Benitez is also in charge of putting price tags on his players as well as deciding who he really wants to keep.
The reality must be that to ensure players are sold early on this summer, Newcastle may need to be elastic with how much they demand, to smooth the way.
Sadly, as always, the reality is that Newcastle have countless players they would love to get rid of (as well as the first team players named above) and yet there is no realistic way of easily shifting them. If you could round up Thauvin, Ameobi, Riviere, Coloccini, Gouffran, Cisse and others, then stick them on Ebay at a price which is even a fraction of what they have cost us in transfer fees & wages and sell within a week, we would be laughing.
Instead, we are waiting for somebody to blink and commit to spending big money on Wijanldum, Janmaat and the ‘£20m’ on Sissoko.
The clock is ticking.